Burkina Faso: Mario Giro explains the reasons behind the terrorist violence that hit the country in a short video

June 9 2021

Burkina Faso

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On 4th June, a terrible massacre occurred in Solhan, a small village in north-eastern Burkina Faso. The entire village was attacked by Islamist fighters engaged in jihad - what they consider to be holy war - and they killed all. So far the death toll is around 140, but it may rise.
A horrible event. We wonder where such extreme violence comes from. First of all, Burkina Faso is a small landlocked country in West Africa close to the Sahara desert, with other neighbouring countries such as Niger and Mali.
Since 2012 a war has been raging in that area, the so-called Sahel area, i.e. the area immediately below or above, depending on how you look at it, the huge Sahara Desert.
It is a war that has stemmed from other wars, and we all know war is the mother of all poverty and  where a war is going on, everything becomes precarious.
The Sahel war is the offspring of other wars. It is the result of the Algerian war -  in the 1990s the Community was involved in an attempt to make peace with the 1995 Platform for Algeria - a terrible war with terrible massacres that lasted until the 21th century.
And then the 2011 outbreak of violence in Libya.
The two wars have caused a great many weapons and armed men to pour down south, polluting a fragile situation in these Sahel countries bordering the desert. Life there is precarious, the desert is advancing, there are ecological phenomena, there is so much poverty. These wars have affected countries already struggling with internal secessions, i.e. groups that wanted to become autonomous such as the Tuareg and other populations, other local tribes. And all this together has caused a great conflagration, showing that a war must be stopped as soon as possible because a war always triggers another one.  Since then, Burkina Faso, close to Mali and Niger, which are both very large, has appeared as the smallest, most fragile country. A country with low population, indeed with many problems, many people emigrating  abroad to the coast, also to Italy. This tiny country, which has also experienced internal revolts and where young people are looking for work and demanding democracy, has been caught up in this wave of violence that started crossing its borders a few years ago.
Last Friday night's massacre was the worst since 2015, but others had already occurred. This country is very important for the Community of Sant'Egidio because BRAVO!, a large civil registration programme for  children, was first implemented here. 3 million children and women did not exist for the State and  now exist. Sant'Egidio has been active in Burkina Faso for many years. It helps the poor, the elderly, the prisoners, and above all it has been carrying out this great programme of civil registration. We are very worried and we keep working hard for peace, even for inter-religious dialogue. Burkina Faso is a mixed country, half Muslim and half Christian: people of different religion have always lived in peace. However, it is now facing a very serious situation. Two jihadist groups, who besides are fighting each other, are trying to expand their territory and killing innocent civilians.